Ocasio-Cortez Tells ABC’s Jon Karl There’s a ‘Very Real Animus’ for Speaker Pelosi Among Progressives


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos for her first Sunday morning interview since taking office, and spilled some tea about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s standing with progressives.

ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jon Karl was the fill-in host, and he brought up recent polling that indicates Democrats are becoming increasingly favorable toward impeachment of President Donald Trump. He said that Speaker Pelosi has “really held her line” on impeachment, referring to her now frequently repeated position that bringing impeachment immediately would be a bad idea.

“How is that flying with progressives?” he asked.

“Well, you know, I think for me this question has — should not be about polls, it should not be about elections,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “I think that impeachment is incredibly serious, and this is about the presence and evidence that the president may have committed a crime, in this case more than one. And so I believe that our decision on impeachment should be based in our constitutional responsibilities and duties, and not in elections or polling.”

She was specific to mention electoral considerations, as that is the chief reason that more experienced Democrats who have been in office longer cite when discussing how bringing impeachment might cost Democrats the 2020 presidential election.

“That being said, with the increase in polls I think the American people are now recognizing, in — in a much broader scale, the depth and the severity of the misconduct coming out of the White House, and a demand to protect our institutions and protect the rule of law in the United States and, and at least opening an inquiry into — into possible misconduct,” she said.

“So how real is that progressive frustration that Speaker Pelosi has said, at least so far — and she seems to be really holding the line — that she’s not ready to do that?” asked Karl.

AOC is both a leader and figurehead among progressives, and that is the base that she must answer to when it comes to her own electoral prospects. That far left side of the party is not happy with Pelosi and other members of the establishment, over impeachment as well as many other issues.

“I think it’s quite real,” said Ocasio-Cortez of progressive frustration with Pelosi. “I believe that there is a very real animus and desire to make sure that we are, that — that we are holding this president to account.”

“Animus” is a strong word for the progressive unrest within the party, and the selection of that word could easily be interpreted as having been intended to send a message to the Speaker. Which is part of why Karl immediately asked about sending an actual message to the Speaker.

“What have you told her about this?” he asked.

“Well you know, I think we come together as a caucus and we have these conversations,” Ocasio-Cortez replied, “and those,  as the Speaker likes to say, they are family conversations, they are ones that are held in confidence, but I do believe that — that this is truly, again — and I’ve said this publicly, I’ve said it privately, I’ve said it when we subpoenaed the attorney general and Secretary Ross today on the census — I mean this week on the census that this is about the rule of law and we have to make sure that we, that we are holding this president account is holding all of government to account.”

That response was disjointed as the congresswoman tried to walk a very narrow balance beam, but Karl pressed on the issue.

“You have 41 freshman Democrats that are in seats that were held by Republicans. And from everything I’ve seen, virtually all of them — these are your majority-makers — all of them oppose moving forward with impeachment,” he said.

Ocasio-Cortez first said she disagreed with Karl’s assessment, and said that the “dynamics” are changing. She then made a differentiation about the process.

“There is opening an impeachment inquiry and then there’s the impeachment vote itself,” she said.

“There may be some that are out on the impeachment vote itself, but I think that there is a growing sentiment even among many of these frontliners, as we call them, swing district Democrats, that think we should at least open an inquiry and look into the abundance of evidence,” she continued, and listed various points of evidence. “We need to at least open an inquiry so that we can look at what is going on.”

Karl pointed out that impeachment can’t get through the Senate, and asked whether that doesn’t mean that opening the inquiry without it being able to go anywhere would result in a political victory for Trump, but Ocasio-Cortez said this should be about the House doing their jobs and that an impeachment inquiry that doesn’t go to a vote or does not pass a vote should not be “politicized.”

The final question on the topic was about whether it’s appropriate or sufficient to talk, as Sen. Kamala Harris has, about prosecution of Trump after he leaves office, about which Ocasio-Cortez said she doesn’t “see the relevancy” of those calls.

“We have power now,” she said. “And to bump it to when we don’t have power I don’t think makes a whole lot of sense in terms of speaking about it.”

Watch the clip above, courtesy of ABC News.

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